Getting Started with Flexible Seating (Free Rule Chart!)

Getting Started with Flexible Seating (Free Rule Chart!)
 

This year, I decided to try out flexible seating in my second grade classroom, and I am super excited!  So in this post, I am going to tell you how I have gotten started with it so far, and give you a free download of the Flexible Seating Rule Chart that I made for myself.

To start off with, let me explain that although last year I taught a first/second grade combination class (also known as a split grade class,) this year I am teaching a straight second grade!  No combo, yeah!  I was originally placed in third grade, so I am happy to be doing at least a partial repeat of what I did last year.  What a relief!  My kids are sweeties, and I am so pleased!  I only found out that I was switched from third to second ONE WEEK before school started, but I wanted to jump for joy!  I am SO much more comfortable with the younger kids… phew!

Heidi's Classroom
These are SitSpots (I am an affiliate :D) for my kids to sit on. They are numbered, so each child knows where to sit.
 

Now, back to flexible seating.  I decided to really jump into this and JUST DO IT, as they say in the Nike ads!  So… I got rid of all of my DESKS and decided to use just tables and the different seating options in the room.  I was comfortable doing this, because my desks are all being stored in the classroom next door.  I can get them all back tomorrow if I want them, so the risk is minimal.  When I found that out, I was more willing to give it a go!

To get started, I made this rule chart that I would like to share with you.  My husband tiled it so that you could print it out nice and large, too!  I hope it is useful! Download it FREE, here!

Flexible Seating Rules from HeidiSongs
 

 

These are what their supply cubbies look like, with some white SitSpots (affiliate) in front of them!  Since the children don’t have desks, they put their things in the cubbies.  I had used these cubbies in Kindergarten, and inherited them from my dear teacher friend Sherry Kinne, whose son had made them in his high school Wood Shop class!  When she lost her brave fight with cancer, her family kindly let me keep all of her classroom supplies that we had shared for over ten years.  I had been using them for storing books and other things last year.  I cleared everything out to make room for their supplies.

 

 

Here are the seating options I purchased.  And yes, I used my own money.  Yes, it was expensive.  However, I saved the receipts and I am going to return some of them now that I know what my kids prefer and don’t seem to like so much.  For example, I bought six laundry baskets for them to lay in and read, but many of them found the baskets uncomfortable, so I’ll probably return a few of them.  Be aware that the baskets probably won’t last!  One of them has already cracked on top, and I purchased the best ones I could find… at Walmart.   😆

-Laundry baskets with pillows

Flexible Seating: Laundry Baskets - HeidiSongs
 

-Arm chair pillows

Flexible Seating: Arm Chair Pillow - HeidiSongs
 

-Bath mats to lay on.  (I got them from Ikea, and they are so cozy!)

Flexible Seating: Bath Mats - HeidiSongs
 

-A nice soft rug

Flexible Seating: Soft Rug - HeidiSongs
 

-Stability disks

stabilitydiskFlexible Seating: Stability Disk - HeidiSongs
 

-Lap trays

Flexible Seating: Lap Tray - HeidiSongs
I got these Lap Trays at Hobby Lobby. You can also see a close up of the SitSpots (affiliate) in the photo.
 

So far, I am still getting used to this new system of classroom management.  I LOVE having the extra space that getting rid of the desks opened up!  BUT… when I give directed lessons that really NEED a table, I am still trying to figure out how to manage everything.  The first day, I had everyone sit on the tables, and some of the kids wound up with their backs to me!  So I had them turn the kidney tables around, and that helped.  I made a rule that nobody could sit with their back to the teacher.

Then one of the tables was situated in such a way that the kids really couldn’t see the screen I was projecting on.  I moved those kids to the floor with the lapdesks, but then I had complaining from the rest of the kids that wanted that, too!  So the next day, I just pulled that table into the center of the room for that lesson, and then had the kids help me push it back again later.

Felxible Seating; Desk Option - HeidiSongs
I actually decided to give up this little kiddie table in favor of more floor space! (I found it in a supply room at my school.) My kids almost never chose it, and it seemed a little small for them.
 

The advantages are wonderful, though!  The kids are LOVING their independent reading time!  They cuddle up with those books and I’m hardly having anyone complain and tell me that they “are done,” etc.  The reading stamina that they are developing is wonderful!

As I figure it all out, I’ll post more.  As for right now… baby steps!  Are you doing flexible seating?  How do you manage it in your classroom?  Do you have desks?

-Heidi 🙂


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Heidi Butkus

About Heidi Butkus

Heidi Butkus has been teaching in California public schools since 1985. She has somehow managed to stay in Kindergarten all of those years, with the exception of five years in first grade, and also taught a parent participation preschool for a short while! Combining a strong knowledge of brain research with practical experience, Heidi has created a wealth of fun and engaging teaching techniques that work well with diverse populations. She has presented at conferences nationwide, and is the owner and founder of HeidiSongs.com. Heidi has also created fourteen original CD's and DVD's for teaching beginning reading and math skills, three musical plays designed especially for young performers, and has written some picture books and many other teaching resources. Heidi's multimedia workshops are filled with fun and motivational educational activities that have been classroom tested and revised for effectiveness with all types of learners.
  1. Dear Heidi,

    Your flexible seat and no more desks is very Montessori. I teach Montessori and that education is simply the best. We work on work rugs and every material has a place in the shelf and are kept simply beautiful, ready for the next person to use. More power to you.

    • Thank you! I hope to rise to that high standard! It’s only the first week of school, and I am still trying to figure out how to best manage the transitions in and out of the “Comfy Seats,” because there are still some things that we really need the tables for! I’m nervous to make two of my tables into one low floor table and another high, standing table, because there are still a few lessons that I am more comfortable giving when all of the children are seated at a table.
      I have to say that I think that there will be a learning curve for me, and I’ll get better at it as I go along.
      Thanks for the encouragement!
      Heidi

  2. Love this! Thanks so much for sharing the flexible seating rules poster! This rocked my world today! I also teach 2nd grade and they are the best! Are those sit spots on your rug? I tried them last spring and they were great. I did have the heart shape though and found that kids would pull at the point of the heart. I just kept on them to stop and make sure their bottoms were on the hearts and it seemed to help! Thanks again.

    • Yes, those are SitSpots! I love those things! Yes, my kids would pick at them sometimes, too. Some of the kids would use them as fidgets! And I, too, got after them and they stopped. I have to say that when the kids sit on their pillows and cushions, they are no longer pulling on the SitSpots!!!
      One thing about the Flexible Seating that I might be doing differently than others is that I do assign WHERE they must sit, at least during directed lessons! Perhaps I should put down some SitSpots in my reading center so that when go there during our rotation, they must sit in one of the assigned spots????
      :
      Heidi

  3. I use felt squares for sit spots and I can easily arrange them in rows or a circle. It really helps the kids know where to sit at the beginning of the year. I also color code so if you are on red team you sit at the red table, sit on a red felt and line up at the red tape line. I really like your flexible seating rules poster. I’m trying to have more options for seating, but we are required to have any furniture or materials in our classrooms be fire rated for school use. We can’t use anything store bought. Not even a beanbag chair unless it comes from one of the pricey school catalogs. Also, do you worry about keeping cloth items (pillows, rugs, etc) clean and lice free. Hate that I have to think about all these things when I see really great ideas!

  4. I taught first grade in a room with flexible seating in the 1970’s. It was called an open concept classroom.I used pieces of counter tops that were the cut out sink pieces and put them on old tires. This made a good writing surface. I also had electrical wiring spools for tables so that the children could sit on the floor. My husband made a Masonite top for it so that the surface was smooth. Teaching has changed since then and there is much more technology used in the classroom but the children enjoyed the choices they had. I also enjoyed teaching in this situation.

  5. I have a question about your “parts of a story” song. Is that song made to the tune of another song? And if so, which song is it to the tune of? Thank you.

  6. Heidi I too will be pulling a Nike motto and just doing it (flexible seating) this next year with my second graders. My question for you is what is your morning routine? How long does it take for kids to get their supplies, find a successful seat, and get started on your day? Second question is regarding transitions between subjects. Again, is there a mad shuffle for kids to get their ELA stuff put away and grab their math, then back to their seats? Or do they have everything for their day in a bin that travels with them all day? Help!

    • Hi, Brianna!
      I have to say that I am just not the right person to answer your questions, because I gave up on flexible seating after about six weeks of school. My second grade class last year was so terribly difficult that it was obvious that they needed STRUCTURE and lots of it. So I was very sad that I had to let it go, but things improved greatly once we went back to a more traditional format. They just couldn’t handle not knowing where they were going to be or what they were going to sit on, and there were just too many kids that could not make good choices about whom they should sit next to in order to get their work done. There’s only so many times you can get up from teaching your small group to stop kids from doing belly flops on the pillows before you have to admit that they just can’t have the pillows anymore. It made me so sad to have to do it, but it had to be. I think it would have been fine with other groups of kids.
      Meanwhile, I think you could ask your questions of these other bloggers:
      http://luckylittlelearners.com/2016/01/flexible-seating.html
      http://www.flexibleinfirst.com/

      Good luck!
      Heidi

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